Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne: “The Unwinding”

“The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” by George Packer was published in 2013, but it is just as important now as it was then to understanding where our inner soul is as a nation.

The Unwinding.jpgPacker is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of other books that reflect on recent history in the U.S.

In the prologue to this work, Packer says, “No one can say when the unwinding began - when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way. Like any great change, the unwinding began at countless times, in countless ways - and at some moment the country, always the same country, crossed a line of history and became irretrievably different.”

That difference and how it came to be is this book.

Packer takes us through this change by taking us through the lives of real Americans. Some you have heard of, some not, but all being a part of the process of historical change.

Packer also takes us through the places and businesses that greatly affected the change: Walmart, Silicon Valley, television, Congress and more.

This is not a dry recitation of facts. The book is intimate and personal, reflecting the core of these people and businesses, for good and bad.

The sad part is that the unwinding continues. Americans find more reasons to be divided and fewer reasons to seek a common good. The reflections in this book were precursors to the continued unwinding.

Interspersed between chapters are pages of headlines and concerns of given years, beginning with 1978. These are one-page blurbs that reflect on the times. An example from the 2003 page: “Wall Street Giants Prosper Amid Downturn”; “U.S. Copter is Downed in Iraq, Killing 18”; and “Pope to Gays: Your Ways are Evil.”

Could be a gimmick, but it fits the chapter discussions and is a relevant reminder of the times.

It’s tough to say you will enjoy this book, but you will think.

“Packer’s dark rendering of the state of the nation feels pained but true. He offers no false hopes, no Hollywood endings, but he finds power in ... the dignity and heart of the people.” - Marc Fisher, Washington Post

Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2018 season is his 12th with the club and 33nd covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County, for the 7th consecutive year, have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March. 180 children participated last year.

* Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne. © Copyright 2018 Gary F. Thorne. Unauthorized use and/or, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gary F. Thorne and MASNsports.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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